Inaugural Fish Habitat Awards presented at 2017 LandCare Conference

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The inaugural Fish Habitat Champion (Individual) Award was Ross Webster for his work on the Yass River.

RECREATIONAL fishing organisations and individuals were recognised at the 2017 NSW Landcare and Local Land Services Conference and Awards Gala Dinner on October 26. This year the awards included the inaugural NSW Fish Habitat Award. Winners were:

Fish Habitat Champion, Organisation - Inland Waterways Rejuvenation Association

The Inland Waterways Rejuvenation Association (IWRA) volunteer committee started off in 2009 as a small grass roots group of local fishers, who put together a raffle to "raise some money to improve the local river".  Today, the group undertakes major fish habitat replenishment projects, has installed hundreds of large snags to form breeding sites and habitat for native fish, and has purchased a River Repair Bus that sees work-for-the-dole participants plant thousands of native trees and remove countless tonnes of rubbish from the waterways. 

To raise funds, the IWRA volunteer committee has run the catch and release Lake Burrendong Fishing Classic for the past eight years, which has generated hundreds of thousands of dollars to improve river health in central NSW. 

The IWRA committee uses the event as a platform to engage with recreational fishers in their thousands, and to pass on messages of sustainable fishing, best fishing practices, and the importance of healthy fish habitat. In 2017, the not for profit fundraiser saw a community-driven prize pool of $50,000 amassed which attracted a record breaking crowd of almost 3,000 people. The public certainly seem to like the fact that the IWRA puts 100% of proceeds back into making healthy waterways through both large scale habitat and education initiatives. 

You can find out more about  the IWRA in the video below.

Fish Habitat Champion, Individual - Ross Webster, Yass River

Ross Webster (above) has been a champion of the Yass River and its fish habitat for more than two decades. He has worked with outstanding commitment and energy to improve fish habitat in the Yass River in collaboration not only with Yass Landcare Group, but also Yass Valley Council, Yass Soldiers Club Fishing Club, Greening Australia and the Yass Acclimatisation Society. Ross has galvanised these organisations to restore the Yass River. Now retired, Ross devotes the greater part of his energy to improving the environment in the Yass District, with a principal focus on fish habitat.

Other awards

Fish Habitat Runner Up, Organisation - Little River Landcare Group 
Fish Habitat Runner Up, Individual - Alan Izzard, Bass Sydney 
Fish Habitat Highly Commended - Murray Local Land Services (collaboration)
Fish Habitat Highly Commended - Shoalhaven Riverwatch (innovation)

IWRA | Burrendong Classic from MMG Photo+Cinema on Vimeo.

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